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Scholarship Recipient: Raissa Borrero

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

Raissa Borrero is a resilient young woman who graduated from Building 21 in Allentown in June 2022. She leaves high school with newfound confidence as one of three recipients of The Chandler-Barnes—awarded to her at the Communities In Schools (CIS) graduation celebration “Ready, Set, Graduate!” this year. This scholarship provides $1,500 toward tuition assistance to an accredited college or university, business school, trade school, or training program. Raissa plans to use her grant to attend Northampton Community College in the fall to study psychology.

A female student poses with her diploma and a male faculty member stands next to her with flowers

Raissa grew up with limited resources and opportunities and matured faster than most children. She took on many adult responsibilities at a young age in order to take care of herself and assist her mother with childcare—however that wasn’t the only obstacle blocking her path to success. After the loss of a friend, she found herself stumbling in school, engaging in physical altercations, and struggling with her mental health. However, Raissa faced these limitations and won. With encouragement from her peers and teachers and guidance from her Communities in Schools (CIS) site coordinator, she obtained and maintained a part-time job, persisted with her studies, participated in activities inside and outside of school, and held leadership roles in various areas school-wide.

Raissa's growth over the years was consistent with the CIS mission. Establishing a one-on-one relationship with a caring adult is one of the CIS “Five Basics”– a set of five fundamentals every child needs and deserves. During Raissa’s 10th grade year, she met her CIS site coordinator, Mrs. Heather Annunziata. Mrs. Annunziata truly listened and worked with her, even when she wasn’t yet an engaged student. Mrs. Annunziata now describes Raissa as “an enthusiastic, thoughtful student with a lot to offer the world,” and believes she will find success in whatever she puts her mind to.

Despite Building 21’s closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the transition to online learning the following year, Raissa remained on track to graduate with a solid GPA. According to her school counselor, Scott Woolf—another adult with whom Raissa built a strong relationship— she “presents herself with confidence, strength, and maturity to a high degree.” Raissa describes herself as a survivor and a warrior and is proud of her progress. She, like her peers and role models, believes will go on to do great things.



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